Physical Therapist Questions Osteoporosis

What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?

I am a 40 year old woman and I've been very athletic for most of my life. I wanted to understand the symptoms of osteoporosis. When should I be on the lookout for any symptoms?

5 Answers

Bone scans are truly the only thing that can reveal osteoporosis.
In most cases, osteoporosis happened after the menopause due to lack of female sex hormones (estrogen) so you are still young, however, there is always blood work and some tests to be done to see if you are losing bone strength. You should see your primary care, but being active, walking, exercise, eating healthy, watching your weight, and having enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet through milk and milk products will definitely help.
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Osteoporosis has very few physical symptoms early on. It is diagnosed with a DEXA scan that looks at bone density. Osteoporosis is diagnosed if the DEXA scan, T score is below -2.5. The lower the T score the lower the bone density (-3.0 is less than -2.5). This rating compares your bone density to that of a healthy 30-year-old. Keep in mind that DEXA scans measure the bone quantity, not quality, so they do not provide information on the resiliency of the bone or its ability to resist fractures. Some early signs of osteoporosis might be a dowagers hump, which is a rounded curve in the upper back, some periodontal bone loss, weakness of grip strength or a fracture that is sustained with very little force. Baseline DEXA scans are usually performed prior to menopause in females to get a baseline. Osteoporosis has many causes and bone health in general may be related to diet, inflammation, activity level (weight bearing and strength training are best for bones), medications ( steroids reduce bone mass), other health conditions (Celiac disease, autoimmune disorders....). body type (thin, small boned, underweight individuals generally have lower bone density) and genetics. It is great that you are proactive and considering now what you can do to fend off bone loss and prevent a future osteoporosis diagnosis. Consult a physical therapist or functional medicine practitioner to devise a bone building and preserving program of exercise, lifestyle, and nutrition to stave off bone loss as you age.
Now. It's best to mention your concerns to your primary care doctor and/or your gynecologist. IF you want a more specialized approach, you can also see an endocrinologist, a rheumatologist, or even a geriatrician (a primary care doc with extra training). But start now.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease process. Many times no one is aware of the disease until an accident in which imaging studies are required. Do you have a family history of the disease? Stay diligent with weight bearing activities and nutritional requirements. Symptoms of osteoporosis can be very hard to isolate.